The Amputee (David Lynch, 1974, USA)

The Amputee is a 1974 short film by David Lynch. In 1973, Lynch had been shooting the film Eraserhead, when he ran out of money. Lynch had been working at the American Film Institute. The Amputee emerged at the request of a friend who was attempting to test different video stocks. The film was co-written with Lynch by long-time collaborator Catherine Coulson. Coulson is perhaps best known for portraying the enigmatic and much-loved "Log Lady" on Lynch's hit TV show Twin Peaks. At the time, Coulson was married to Jack Nance, who was starring as Henry - the main character of Eraserhead. The film stars Coulson as the double-leg amputee, and David Lynch himself plays her nurse. Supposedly an AFI executive saw this film, expecting to see a more conventional camera test. This executive immediately knew that David Lynch was responsible for it. The other rumor about the film was that David Lynch was very much against the use of video. The idea of the American Film Institute becoming the "American Video Institute" was anathema to him, and thus he purposefully shot The Amputee badly. This, however, has not been verified. 

There is not much to say about The Amputee in terms of the actual plot. The amputee, played by Coulson, reads a meandering and boring letter while her nurse (Lynch) tends to her legs. There were two versions of the film shot, and in one version her amputated legs begin to spout goo, which Lynch the nurse has to attend to. The quality of the footage is not great, which makes it hard to enjoy. I am not sure this can even properly be called a short film and is probably only worthwhile for David Lynch completists to check out. Casual fans will not find much of interest here.



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